While visiting the Dominican Republic, you’re bound to wander into several of its upbeat, colorful cities. The Dominican Republic is home to many of the Caribbean’s oldest towns and holds a unique history its locals cherish. And when you find yourself in one of these sprawling cities, you’ll be swept away by the festive spirit.
Whether you’re seeking colonial history or a beach vacation, the Dominican Republic has a spot for everyone. Each city has something special to offer, and you’re in for a special treat. To find out the best places to visit in Dominican Republic, see these cities and add them to your list.
Santo Domingo is the frenetic heartbeat of urban life in the Dominican Republic and overflowing with history. As the nation’s capital and first settlement of the New World, Santo Domingo clings to its colonial roots. Wander around the UNESCO World Heritage Zona Colonial to enter a time portal into the 16th century. Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación was the first Catholic cathedral in the New World, and the Ozama Fortress holds resounding secrets within its walls.
There’s an energy that resonates with everyone, and Santo Domingo boasts one of the Caribbean’s hottest nightlife scenes. Take a stroll down the Malecón to watch a mesmerizing sunset, then hit up the bars, nightclubs, and casinos on the waterfront. Mercado Modelo is an energetic spot to find authentic Dominican handmade crafts, and the pedestrian-friendly Calle El Conde has all sorts of souvenirs.
Hugging the Dominican Republic’s northern coast, Puerto Plata has enchanted visitors since the days of Christopher Columbus. The country’s first tourism hub, Puerto Plata still attracts vacationers from across the globe looking to lounge on its golden sand beaches. But beyond its all-inclusive beachfront resorts, you’ll find rich museums and the city’s colonial past.
Visit the Amber Museum to admire the gemstones that enticed explorers to the New World. Fort San Felipe guards Puerto Plata, and the 16th-century fortress is full of intriguing historical artifacts. Satisfy your yearning for adventure by touring the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua or zipline through the treetops of Monkey Jungle. And for an aerial view that makes your heartbeat race, ride the Caribbean’s only cable car to the 2,600 ft, Mount Isabel de Torres.
The 32 km coastline of Punta Cana sparkles with azure-blue waters and sugar-white sand beaches. Rest and play around Playa Bávaro for luxurious resorts and nonstop water sports at your disposal. Practice your swing at Punta Espada Golf Course and walk in the footsteps of PGA legends. Grab your swim trunks again for a swim with dolphins or a snorkeling adventure with sharks and stingrays at Dolphin Island Park.
Scape Park holds the crystal-clear Hoyo Azul cenote for a magical swim amongst limestone cliffs. Experience Punta Cana from the sea and embark on boat tours to nearby islands and coral reefs. Punta Cana doesn’t lack culture and intrigues visitors with day trips to Basilica Nuestra Señora De La Altagracia. The 250 ft arch highlights its stunning exterior, but you’ll also find a beautiful 16th-century altar inside.
Beach resorts and white-sand beaches pepper the shores of La Romana, but adventure and culture lie at your doorstep. Overlooking the Rio Chavon, Altos de Chavón is a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village. Walk along its cobblestone streets, view inspirational art galleries, and have a seat in the Greek amphitheater. Cruises along the river enchant you with images of the jungle and delicious Dominican cuisine onboard.
Teeth of the Dog Golf Course brings PGA golfers to the Dominican Republic in an otherworldly setting. On the bustling sidewalks of Parque Central Duarte, you’ll see statues of famous baseball players from the Dominican Republic. La Romana is also the perfect launching pad to Catalina Island and world-class diving. The wreckage of infamous pirate Captain William Kidd rests offshore of the island is one of the Dominican Republic’s greatest treasures.
Samaná rests on the glistening Samaná Bay and is one of the best places to visit in the Dominican Republic for nature lovers. Stroll along the waterfront Malecón for picturesque views of sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and lush jungles. The colorful houses give the town a cheerful vibe, and you can pull up a chair at seaside bars and restaurants.
Whale watching is the biggest draw to Samaná, and winter hosts thousands of mating humpback whales. After watching these beauties in the wild, visit the Whale Museum to view an enormous humpback whale skeleton. Outside of whale-watching cruises, you can appreciate Samaná’s scenic beauty at the palm-fringed Cayo Levantado island or the cascading El Limón waterfall.
The vibrant resort town of Cabarete sits on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast about 45-50 minutes from Puerto Plata. Its cozy atmosphere welcomes visitors with open arms, and its upbeat attitude infuses everyone in town. Water sports are a major draw, with surfing and kitesurfing attracting the biggest crowds.
Calle Principal is the main drag and boasts an eclectic collection of bars and restaurants that send your taste buds into a trance. Downtown Cabarete houses lots of artisan shops to buy handmade crafts and low-key nightclubs to spend the evening. And for an adrenaline-pumping day trip, head to El Choco National Park for hiking, mountain biking, and caving.
If you stop in Cabarete while visiting the Dominican Republic, then a detour to Sosúa is a must for your itinerary. The beach town shelters golden sand beaches like Sosúa Beach and Casa Marina Beach and a colorful coral reef beneath the surface. World-class diving in Sosúa brings out your inner explorer at the underwater Airport Wall and Zingara Wreck. And venture to the idyllic Playa Encuentro to find your surfing hideaway.
Sosúa educates eager minds about Dominican culture at the Mundo King Art Museum. Stop by the Jewish Community Museum for an intriguing history lesson about Jewish refugees who settled here during WWII. Sosúa also hosts many of the best restaurants in the Dominican Republic, so foodies make sure to bring your appetite.